The Orchard

Author: Jeffery Stepakoff
ISBN: 978-0312581596
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Penned by Jeffery Stepakoff, the writer and co-producer of the drama series Dawson’s Creek, The Orchard is a heartwarming story primarily set in a lush orchard (hence the name) in the atmospheric locales of Georgia. In The Orchard, with his graceful eloquence, Stepakoff weaves a seamless love story that is both delectable and thoroughly enjoyable.

As the rising star and the ultimate career girl who develops aromas and tastes for a major Atlanta-based company, Grace Lyndon’s world is dominated by perfumes and flavors. She leads an independent life, spending all her energy to develop exclusive scents and flavors extracted from all over the world. While she has no man in her life Grace evades going on dates set up by her friends. She has no qualms about being single largely due to the fact that she is committed to her passion – her job. Besides, she hardly ever has the time.

When Grace picks up and tastes an exquisite apple, she falls in love with the flavor from the first bite. Determined to track down the apple’s origin, Grace sets off at night on a journey that brings her to a lush orchard which belongs to Dylan Jackson, a widowed single father. Dylan is still silently suffering from the loss of her loving wife. Since his wife’s demise, Dylan has dedicated his life’s work on raising his feisty kid named Carter and tending to his North Georgia apple farm.

After their rather dramatic first meeting, Grace and Dylan become fast friends conspicuously ignoring the sparks felt by each other’s presence. Gradually, the bond between Grace and Dylan develops into a rather fragile relationship with Grace tied up to her career and Dylan chained to his past and the memories of his wife.

With its beautifully constructed plot, this novel will win you over on many levels. The Orchard is mainly a character-driven story in which a large part has been invested to develop the protagonists. The appealing heroine is one of them. Grace Lyndon is the kind of character you could easily become friends with. Dylan Jackson, as the charming hero, is equally likeable. But the real character who will steal your heart is the lively Carter.

The highpoint of this feel-good novel lies in its succinct writing which in turn makes it an easy read. The Orchard is also the perfect read to gift for your better half. All in all, The Orchard is a highly satisfying novel that spells out the perfect Southern love story. Keep your apples ready as you devour this scrumptious bite of a novel.

Jeffery Stepakoff has written for more than a dozen different television series, including the Emmy-winning The Wonder Years, Sisters. Author of the acclaimed novel, Fireworks Over Toccoa, he has also developed and written plays, TV pilots and major motion pictures, including Disney’s Tarzan and Brother Bear.

Reviewed for Boohpleasures.com by Hamdhoon Rashad

A Shower of Roses

Author: Tom Milton
ISBN: 978-0982990414:
Publisher: Nepperhan Press, LLC

Tom Milton’s masterful storytelling in his rather poetic yarn, A Shower of Roses, lures readers into a world where a poignant and powerful love story unfolds in the backdrop of an extraordinarily evocative setting. If that did not succeed as the perfect antidote, prepare yourselves to be blown away by his elegant writing that has the power to move you to your very existence.

You may wonder, at this point, what Milton’s secret ingredient could possibly be. For starters let’s say that an unforgettable cast, a graceful prose and snappy dialogues are just the icing on the cake. Above all, it is the stirring human touch the talented author so daringly adds to the mix that does the trick and makes all the difference.

Eva works as a pediatric nurse at a New York hospital. She has made it her life’s to help people by doing little things for them, instead of performing great heroic acts. Things are going well for her when she meets Marek, a Polish exile, and falls in love with him. Marek ostensibly works for a large international bank, but Eva soon learns that it is a cover for his role as a CIA agent with the mission of stimulating a popular uprising against the communist government of Poland.

At the request of the CIA the bank transfers Marek to London, where the story opens in April 1981, shortly after Poland announced that it would be unable to repay its foreign debt and the Solidarity movement emerged. Eva had never dreamed of marrying a man like Marek but she responds to his need for love and she devotes her life to him.

She is fully aware that her husband’s work is dangerous. Every time he goes to Poland she worries that he will be arrested by the secret police. Though he drags her into a world of political intrigue and tests her love by subjecting her to increasingly painful experiences, she keeps her promise to love him no matter what he does until she confronts the truth about him – and consequently about herself.

Milton’s somewhat tragic tale raises one fundamental question that has intrigued me as I turned the pages deep into the heart of the story: how far are you willing to go to prove your devotion for someone you love? Told in flashbacks, Milton shifts gears from present to past with an added elegance, exploring the dire consequences of one’s fate in such a circumstance.

If you are craving for a book to put you in the mood to discover shocking revelations about the power of love and devotion, grab a copy of A Shower of Roses – not because your search ends here but because it is so achingly beautiful.

Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com

Bella

Title: Bella
Author: Steve Piacente
ISBN: 978-1451571615
Publisher: CreateSpace

It is quite safe to say that Bella, the enchanting debut novel by journalist-turned-author Steve Piacente, is nothing less than a literary masterpiece on so many levels. From its punchy and witty prose to its utterly appealing and irresistible heroine, Piacente has charmed us with a bold and inventive novel the effects of which will linger in your minds for a very long time.

Told through the eyes of the male protagonist, a Washington journalist named Danny Patragno, the story centers on the beautiful and elusive widow Isabel ‘Bella’ Moss who has a way of getting what she has put her mind to. After receiving an anonymous phone call that rattled her, Bella is determined on proving that the U.S. military has lied to her and to the world about her husband’s death during the war, and she will stop at nothing until she finds a way to find the truth and tell it to the world.

She lures a reluctant Patragno into the investigation, charming him with her alluring personality. It was her resolve more than anything that drew Patragno’s attention. Of course, her beauty is a whole different story. Along the way as newfound evidences and witnesses resurface, Patragno is more and more convinced that there is more to the story. So much more than even Bella herself knew.

At the same time, Danny’s life is on the line at home with his wife when he finds himself falling for Bella, her powerful attractiveness pulling him like a magnet to the extent that Patragno is pretty much helpless in the presence of Bella. Working together, they were tested by the power of temptation and the consequences that followed, threatening to alter the course of their lives forever.

The rich, involving narrative is knotted together with an adept hand populated by memorable, life-sized character that gives the novel more reality than real life itself. As he piles on the suspense of what’s coming next and the romance that is brewing on the sideline, Piacente takes us across Washington to Florida, along the way meeting some very influential people in politics and military.

One of the most striking themes of the novel is Piacente’s intriguing take on ethics as a former journalist. Burrowing from his extensive experience in journalism, Piacente thoroughly investigates the fine line between the rights and wrongs of journalism ethics and personal morals with a sharp, focused and perceptive eye.

With an original voice that has so audaciously knitted such an enticing yarn, Piacente has proved himself that he is a writer in a league of his own. A highly engaging and an equally marvelous read, Bella comes with the highest recommendation. I can hardly wait for Piacente’s next.

Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com